Going into this hockey season I was relatively unenthusiastic in comparison to years past. Over the last 5-10 years I have become a bigger and bigger Washington Capitals fan, and have thoroughly enjoyed the core group of players that has been assembled since Ovechkin was drafted.
In high school I was a distant fan, I followed the team online, played video games as them, but I never really watched the actual games. I found out the results of games through conversations with friends and in the Washington Post. When I went to college I really started to pay more attention to the team and religiously began watching games. Mike Green was one of my favorite players. An offensive minded defenseman was something that I found awesome, and the offensive powerhouse the Capitals had was very impressive to me. Obviously events happened, players came and went, but the core of Ovechkin and Backstrom, among others here and there took over and the team plugged guys in with the hopes of making it over the hump.
Flashing forward a few years, and the previous two seasons were being touted as “If the Capitals cannot get it done now…this might be the end of their run” or “They are at the end of the run for the core of this team, so they have to win” years. I never really felt that myself until a couple years ago. During the 15-16 season I felt that the Capitals had one of their best teams on the ice and I was genuinely devastated with the early exits and then the core of the team was lost as cap casualties. Going into 17/18 season I really didn’t expect much from the Capitals with the amount of player turnover, a new group having to mesh, not thinking the new group would have the same firepower, etc. I assumed that the loss of talent would be overwhelming.
I am not going to say that I have watched nearly enough hockey this season to know too much about the team, but I have been following throughout the season and I have been thrilled with the results of another outdoor game win, another Division win, and that the team is in the playoffs. When the Caps went down 2-0 in the series, while I was disappointed, it was not nearly the same disappointment as it was in the past. I think that my happiness with the team is in the lowered expectations that I had going into the season. With them now tying the series back up, I am genuinely curious if this could make for a more special season. There aren’t the same lofty expectations because of the highly paid, under-performing players, they are playing well with a core of talent that is not as high-profile as it has been for the last decade.
I may be completely off base, but this is where I am at. Everything is gravy this season for me, but if they make it past the second round (I am not going to reach at this point past that) I will be beyond the moon with joy. Let’s hope they come out this afternoon and make it 3 in a row! Lets Go Caps!